When discussing whole food, health and nutrition, protein is one of (if not) the most talked about subjects.
Protein is found throughout our bodies and is built from important building blocks called amino acids. Our bodies can recycle amino acids but we must have a source of protein to replace the essential amino acids that are not recycled (that's where food comes in). Most people supplement these with animal sources such as meat and dairy products. A diet of plant based proteins and less meat can help you live longer (80 twenty Nutrition).
Here are my top 5 plant-based proteins and how I use them everyday:
Chia Seeds deliver 4 grams of protein per 2 Tablespoons and are a complete protein as they contain all of the essential amino acids. They're an ancient seed that has been used for thousands of years naturally adding omega-3's, protein and fiber to foods. I sprinkle chia seeds on my salads, smoothies and add it to my Coconut Chia Homestyle Granola.
Quinoa has an amazing 11 grams of protein per cup and is also a complete protein. It is a great protein alternative to pasta or rice dishes and is an excellent source of fiber. It is also a good source of important minerals like potassium, iron and magnesium! I use cooked quinoa in salads, as a veggie burger base and add puffed quinoa to my Vanilla Almond Quinoa Homestyle Granola for extra nutrients!
Sunflower Seeds are considered to contain the most protein per volume at 7.3 grams per cup and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential to both your body and brain. Sunflower seeds also contain the power antioxidant selenium which helps inflammation and thyroid health. I snack on sunflower seeds right out of the bag, make my own sunflower butter as well as enjoy them sprouted in my new Blue Bike Sprouted Snacks.
Nuts are perfect for anytime snacking! Almonds are my go-to for snacking as they have 20 grams of protein per cup. I always keep some raw almonds on hand as a filling snack as well as they are a good source of vitamin E, fiber and unsaturated fats. I love to bake with almonds as well as add them on top of yogurt, granola and munch on them in my Blue Bike Sprouted Snacks.
Leafy Greens are a fresh and great way to get protein! My favorite is spinach, especially in the summer when you can find it fresh at farmer's markets, grocery stores or in your own garden. Cooked spinach has 5 grams of protein per cup but is also great raw! Spinach is loaded with fiber, folate, calcium and other great nutrients. I typically use spinach as the base of a green salad with some feta and strawberries, blend it into a smoothie or add to a breakfast omelet.
What is your favorite non-meat protein source?
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